Traverse the continent on this epic train trip between Sydney and Perth, exploring Australia's outback in style.
By Alissa Jenkins
Few train journeys are as epic as the Indian Pacific. From Sydney on Australia's east coast across the entire continent to Perth in the west, it passes through landscapes as varied as the spectacular Blue Mountains and the endless flat, otherworldly stretches of the Nullarbor Plain. Expect comfortable cabins, excellent food and fascinating day trips, which differ on the return route.
What to expect
Board at Sydney's Central Station and settle into your cabin, where you'll spend the afternoon taking in the scenery as it transforms from skyscrapers and traffic lights to the forested valleys and sandstone cliffs of the stunning Blue Mountains. Your on-board radio includes an audio commentary option.
The journey's eastbound service (Perth to Sydney) includes an off-train excursion in the majestic Blue Mountains, which includes visits to the majestic Three Sisters at Echo Point and the spectacular Jamison Valley.
As the sun sets behind mountain ranges you will begin to enter the more arid regions of New South Wales, characterised by hardy mulga (a small native Australian tree) and vast plains. After dinner in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant, meet fellow guests in the Outback Explorer Lounge for a welcome drink.
The day begins in Broken Hill, formerly a booming mining town, which has inspired an array of artists over the years with its distinctive desert landscape. On a one-hour walking tour, explore the city's iconic Living Desert Sculptures then visit the Pro Hart Gallery, where you'll learn all about one of Australia's most celebrated artists, whose works capture the spirit of the outback.
After an onboard lunch, the journey continues into the green and golden fields of South Australia's food bowl. You have a choice between several off-train excursions. You can opt to spend the afternoon and evening in the picturesque Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale wine region, the charming heritage town of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills or a private guided tour of the South Australian Museum. All tours include drinks and dinner. Afterwards, all guests rejoin the train in Adelaide to begin the journey across the Nullarbor Plain.
On the eastbound service, which includes a morning stop in Adelaide, your excursion options include an Adelaide city sights coach tour, a progressive breakfast at the famous Adelaide Central Markets, a guided tour of Adelaide Oval or a city and river precinct walking tour.
You’ll be greeted at sunrise by the striking, raw beauty of the Nullarbor. Taking its name from the Latin for "no trees", this vast outback plain has bewildered and inspired generations of Australians and visitors alike. A seemingly endless expanse of rusty earth and hardy outback shrubs, the Nullarbor covers 200,000 square kilometres (77,000 square miles) of South Australia and Western Australia and is considered a "bucket list"' experience.
Having entered Western Australia, celebrate crossing Australia's most famous plain with a special dinner in the remote outpost of Rawlinna. Here, guests are invited to disembark and partake in a traditional long-table dinner under the bright stars of the outback sky (seasonal). Surrounded by nothing but vast sheep stations (the nearest town, Kalgoorlie, is more than 400 kilometres, or 250 miles away), this is one alfresco dining experience to remember.
The Indian Pacific eastbound service (Perth to Sydney) offers an additional excursion in the wild west goldrush town of Kalgoorlie.
The scenery transforms again as the Indian Pacific continues through the picturesque Avon Valley, a patchwork of rolling hills and winding streams. After passing fertile farmland and the occasional hot air balloon, the journey nears the end as Perth's outer city limits come into view.
When the Indian Pacific arrives in the west after its epic transcontinental crossing, you have the choice to be transferred directly to your accommodation or to take an optional upgrade tour to explore Perth. On the Perth tour, you'll admire magnificent city views from Kings Park, travel along the Swan River and picturesque foreshore parklands, see Subiaco with its trendy boutiques and restaurants, and Claremont with its upmarket shopping and famous 'Millionaire's Row.' You'll also enjoy city landmarks like the WACA Cricket Ground, Town Hall, Perth Mint, Parliament House, Crown Casino and Barracks Arch.
Perth provides seamless transport options to access beautiful Rottnest Island and its adorable quokkas, the groovy culture and art scene of portside Fremantle, the vineyards of the Swan Valley and charming Cottesloe Beach where you can enjoy a swim in the Indian Ocean. To enjoy the rich heritage of Perth, visit Barrack Square to see The Bell Tower, Perth Mint, the WA Maritime Museum and roam the winding streets of Fremantle before touring its World Heritage-listed prison.